Keywords: zoning, fractal geometry, urban development, urban spatial patterns, Taipei, Taiwan, Euclidean geometry, land regulation
On failure of zoning
Zoning is designed to delineate land uses in order to prevent urban development from incurring negative externalities. Morphologically speaking, zoning should result in spatial patterns that are closer to Euclidean (or regular) geometry than fractal (or irregular, self–similar) geometry. Previous computer simulations showed that zoning did not affect the fractal geometry of the urban spatial patterns of the Taipei metropolitan area. In this paper, we explore into the reasons why zoning fails in most Asian cities in general, and in Taipei in particular, through theoretical expositions. We argue that the preference for mixed uses is the main reason why zoning fails to achieve its goals. Furthermore, even a limited extent of mixed uses would result in spatial patterns characterised by fractal geometry rather than Euclidean geometry. We argue for a hybrid land regulation through the zoning and permit systems that take advantage of both the artificial and natural aspects of cities.